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— Part-time school worker accused of stealing $13K

NORTH LITTLE ROCK - A volunteer and part-time worker at a Pulaski County elementary school is accused of stealing nearly $13,000 in parent-teacher organization funds, authorities said.

Arkansas Online reports that Crystal Phillips, 33, of North Little Rock was arrested Tuesday on charges of theft of property and fraudulent use of a debit card, records show.

Authorities say Phillips, a volunteer with the parent-teacher organization at Oak Grove Elementary School, admitted to misusing the organization’s debit card over a span of three years.

The 33-year-old, who also worked part time as a lunch supervisor at the school, told investigators that about $6,000 was taken. The sheriff’s office said the stolen money totaled $12,761.68.

Pulaski County Special School District spokeswoman Deborah Roush said district funds were not affected.

On July 23, a deputy was called to the school at 5703 Oak Grove Road, in the northern part of the county, according to a report from the Pulaski County sheriff’s office.

Teen arrested at airport wanted to fly to concert

TEXARKANA - Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Black on Monday formally charged Zemarcuis Devon Scott with commercial burglary and attempted theft of property with a value greater than $25,000, according to Arkansas Online.

Asked about his lack of training as a pilot, Scott told Texarkana police that he didn’t believe there was much more to the task than pushing buttons and pulling levers, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case.

About 2:30 a.m. on July 4, airport security personnel contacted police about seeing a man jump a fence and attempt to enter an American Eagle twin-engine jet.

By the time officers arrived, the suspect, later identified as Scott, had gotten onto the small commercial plane and closed the door behind him, authorities said. When officers shined a flashlight into the plane’s cockpit from outside the jet, they could see a man sitting in the pilot’s seat with his hands below the window and out of direct view.

Fearing for their safety, an officer drew his weapon and ordered the man to keep his hands up.

Two officers reportedly recognized the man as Scott before authorities opened the plane door and arrested him.

Scott is being held in the Miller County jail with bail set at $25,000.

Enrollment-tied funds pitched for Ark. schools

ARK. - An Arkansas advisory committee Tuesday proposed changes to the state’s system of distributing millions of dollars to school districts for building-related costs to favor the ones that have had sharp declines in student enrollment, reports Arkansas Online.

The Advisory Committee on Public School Academic Facilities also called for the state to budget $90 million a year for its share of the cost of school construction -- encompassing new academic space, as well as replacement of roofs, heating and air conditioning systems, and other “warm, safe and dry” systems.

The committee, made up of educators, engineers, architects and others, developed the 73-page report and recommendations over the past year. The report was done in accordance with Act 801 of 2017 that called for a comprehensive review of the state’s academic facilities programs to ensure that they are as effective and efficient as they can be.

The state has been contributing to school construction and replacement costs since 2004 when the state Public School Academic Facilities Program was established in the wake of an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that the state’s public school system -- including school buildings -- were inadequate and inequitable and, as a result, unconstitutional.

Charles Stein, vice chairman of the advisory committee, presented the recommendations Tuesday to the three-member Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation Commission, which asked questions about the report but delayed any action on it until later this year.

Stein was aided by Jimmy Alessi, a contractor and chairman of the committee, and Brad Montgomery, secretary of the committee and director of the state Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation.

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